Using induced pluripotent stem cells as a tool for modelling carcinogenesis

World J Stem Cells. 2015 Mar 26;7(2):461-9. doi: 10.4252/wjsc.v7.i2.461.


Cancer is a highly heterogeneous group of diseases that despite improved treatments remain prevalent accounting for over 14 million new cases and 8.2 million deaths per year. Studies into the process of carcinogenesis are limited by lack of appropriate models for the development and pathogenesis of the disease based on human tissues. Primary culture of patient samples can help but is difficult to grow for a number of tissues. A potential opportunity to overcome these barriers is based on the landmark study by Yamanaka which demonstrated the ability of four factors; Oct4, Sox2, Klf4, and c-Myc to reprogram human somatic cells in to pluripotency. These cells were termed induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) and display characteristic properties of embryonic stem cells. This technique has a wide range of potential uses including disease modelling, drug testing and transplantation studies. Interestingly iPSCs also share a number of characteristics with cancer cells including self-renewal and proliferation, expression of stem cell markers and altered metabolism. Recently, iPSCs have been generated from a number of human cancer cell lines and primary tumour samples from a range of cancers in an attempt to recapitulate the development of cancer and interrogate the underlying mechanisms involved. This review will outline the similarities between the reprogramming process and carcinogenesis, and how these similarities have been exploited to generate iPSC models for a number of cancers.

Keywords: Cancer; Induced pluripotent stem cells; Model; Reprogramming.

Publication types

  • Review